Recent improvements to the course registration and setup process are making the student experience smoother. Several University offices and student and faculty stakeholder groups work together to make changes focused on three areas: registration appointments, reserved seats and waitlist processes.
“We appreciate our continued partnership with Operational Excellence, ITS, the College of Arts and Sciences and others in trying to ensure students have the best possible Carolina experience,” said Rachelle Feldman, vice provost for enrollment.
Students sought transparency around registration appointment assignments. Registration date is now determined by earned credit hours; before it was based on how long a student had been at the University. Time of day is now determined by terms in residence instead of being randomly assigned as before.
Students also struggled to register within 15-minutes appointment slots. Now registration windows are three hours long, allowing students plenty of time to register outside of class periods.
The total registration timeframe doubled, with two waves of registration across four weeks. In the first two weeks, students can register for up to 13 credit hours. In the second two weeks, students can register for more hours, up to 17 total, including 12 waitlisted hours. Open enrollment begins after the second wave, allowing students to register for up to 18 credit hours or to submit a request to overload if needed.
“We compared it to a dinner party,” University Registrar Lauren DiGrazia said of the wave model. “Students all get a first pick before anyone is allowed to go back for seconds.”
Before, courses outside a student’s major or minor often looked open to them during registration. Students now see availability through an “Only reserved seats available” icon, plain language error messages and updated class details that show reserved seat information.
A student can waitlist up to 12 credit hours in fall and spring, compared to only four before. During summer semesters, students can waitlist eight hours. Courses in ConnectCarolina have unlimited waitlist seats available, offering students more flexibility and showing them where they are on the list. They can now join a waitlist until the day before the semester’s course-add deadline, creating more consistency during the first week of classes.
To make waitlist registration information clearer, waitlist hours are now separate from enrolled hours. Students will receive an email updating them on their enrollment status. A waitlist informational tile in in the Student Center area of ConnectCarolina provides plain language details on the process.
The changes not only improve the student experience but also help faculty and staff. Departments can more easily manage waitlists and reserve seats for students who need them to complete a major or minor.
Before, some departments used independent systems or workarounds to manage reserved seats and waitlist registration. But with improvements to ConnectCarolina by ITS, the project team offered training for reserving seats and waitlist registration and encouraged working within the system.
“I am pleased that our faculty and staff at Carolina are continuing to collaborate to try to improve the student experience. We have great hopes that the improved and more consistent process will make it easier for students to register for the classes they need and for departments to understand the demand for courses and plan accordingly,” Feldman said.
The changes standardize reporting to collect University-wide data on courses and registration — data crucial for matching future course offerings with demand. More changes, including upgrading technology, have been discussed as ways to better the student registration experience and ease anxieties about course schedules.